A Walk through the Book of Luke
March 28, 2023
The Rich Man and Lazarus
As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, money has become less important to me. Now, don’t get me wrong. But, of course, I would like enough money to pay my monthly bills and to put food on the table.
But the shiny new car, the newest car, the latest cell phone, or the “toys” many people like to have, and purchase, have become less important to me. It took me many years to appreciate helping others with the financial and spiritual gifts that God gave me.
I’m far from perfect, but my wife and I have gotten better at giving to the church, donating to worthy causes, and giving to the needy. At some point, we finally came to realize, “We can’t take it with us.”
This brings us to the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus.
The Rich man was anything but a believer, giver, or willing to help the less fortunate. It is implied by Jesus that although Lazarus lived and died a poor person, he was also a pious (devoutly religious) man.
But there was a role reversal for our two main characters when they died.
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died, and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So, he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you, a great chasm has been set in place so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” Luke 16:19-31
Today’s parable brings to mind two other characters I’ve recently read and written about. The Rich man in today’s parable may bring to mind the parable of “The Rich Fool.” Like the Rich man in today’s parable, he sought to live a rich, extravagant, and worry-free life. Unfortunately, both men had their lives end with nothing to show for it.
Lazarus, in today’s parable, not to be confused with Mary and Martha’s brother), is reminiscent of “The Prodigal Son.” Like Lazarus, the Prodigal Son was starving to death. In both parables, Jesus uses the same words for both men, “Longing to eat.”
I don’t need to go through the parable line by line. But there are a couple of points I’d like to mention.
As in several of my recent devotions, Jesus once again emphasizes that we should use the money He has given us to use while we are here on earth wisely. One of those ways is to give to the poor, like Lazarus.
The second thing Jesus alludes to,
“Is to emphasize the sufficiency of the Word of God to bring about repentance, the changed life.” (People’s Commentary Bible, Luke, Victor h. Prange, Pp. 187)
In other words, if God’s Word doesn’t convince people to repent, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead undoubtedly won’t.
“The resurrection of Jesus Himself did not bring about mass conversions.” (People’s Commentary Bible, Luke, Victor H. Prange, Pp.187)
Finally, in the last line of today’s parable, Jesus says,
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
He emphasizes something that was taught to me early in my religious studies. We must understand that a balance of God’s law and the Gospel is central to our faith.